Gobble Gobble Therapy

November 29th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, the Big Bird is the gift that keeps on giving. BSK trimmed the Thanksgiving turkey of slices of white meat (kept some white and dark meat on the carcass). The carcass, water, vegetables and herbs went into the Instant Pot. Cooked for hours (BSK was vigilant about the timing). The result was a pure, rich, fragrant, turkey broth. (BSK got rid of the bones, vegetables, etc. in a colander). HG was feeling weak and sickly due to a sleepless night and some minor league health difficulties. BSK claimed that some big bowls of turkey broth would get HG back into the health zone. BSK said something about “electrolytes”, etc. BSK put some frozen peas and other frozen vegetables (a freezer edit) into the broth and added a healthy amount of pearl barley and garden herbs. Simmered the broth to soften the barley but not turn it into mush. Warmed the turkey slices in the magic elixir. Big bowl in front of HG who added smoked black pepper and crumbled salt crackers. Ate with joy. Had another bowl. And, yes, had a third bowl. Drank a fruity Cotes du Rhone. The result: A magical restoration of a lively and vigorous HG. Thanks, BSK and Big Bird.

Thanksgiving Redux

December 1st, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

It can’t be a true Thanksgiving celebration without turkey. The HG/BSK/RIVA family ate excellent pork loin on Thanksgiving Day in the beautiful French city of Reims. Very good but it didn’t provide the ambience of tradition provided by the noble bird. Not to worry. The family had Thanksgiving Redux a day after arriving in Rhode Island (following the usual exhausting air journey of delays, uncomfortable seating, vile food, etc.). And, the festive meal took no more effort than the judicious use of the oven and microwave. The Rivas’ good friends and neighbors in their town of Riverside, R.I., are Ivan and Diane. They are both doctors serving the medical needs of the poor and homeless. Diane is a splendid cook. Ivan is a vegetarian but not an ascetic. He is a collector of Scotch single malt whiskys (He once gave HG a tasting of flights of these extraordinary spirits). Diane left a total Thanksgiving meal in the Riva kitchen: Turkey (of course); dressing; gravy; Brussels sprouts; cranberry sauce; a puree of carrots and ginger; haricots vert enhanced with sour cherries; crusty roast potatoes. Arianna’s friend, Jake (a student at Johnson and Wales) baked a pumpkin pie for dessert. Wonderful homecoming meal. Much to be thankful for.

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Gobble Gobble or: How HG Stopped Complaining And Learned To Love Turkey

December 3rd, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

For many year HG disdained the traditional Thanksgiving feast of turkey with all the trimmings. However, BSK’s skills have made HG change his mind. First of all, BSK takes great care in selecting the holiday bird. This year, BSK bought an Amish-raised, totally natural bird from Kuane’s, a well regarded grocer in Santa Fe. Under BSK’s deft hands the bird came out of the oven with brown, crisp skin and a delectably juicy interior. (A BSK secret: To insure a flavorful breast, BSK laid anchovies and bacon on the breast, covered the mixture with foil and let it melt into the bird). Earlier in the day, BSK served butternut squash soup (with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a dusting of cayenne). This soup was based on a recipe from HG’s beloved, late sister, Beulah. All raised glasses to toast her memory. Dinner was festive. Nine persons squeezed around the dining table. Many bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau and Pinot Noir. Side dishes of caramelized pearl onions, roast brussels sprouts, creamy mashed potatoes, stuffing, haricot verts, cranberry sauce. Pear crisp with vanilla ice cream plus peanut butter pie for dessert. Lavish eating. HG has always insisted on lots of turkey gravy with the dinner and BSK complied. BSK roasted vegetables and added them to cooked turkey gizzards, mushroom broth, turkey neck meat and a bit of flour (for thickening). Best turkey gravy ever. Turkey sandwiches the next day. More turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy for next two nights. Followed by turkey soup a la New Mexico. BSK enhanced the soup by giving it a hit of Goya Adobo and adding Big Jim New Mexico roasted chili peppers. Yes, turkey is a bird who just keeps giving, and HG is now glad to receive.

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Whatever Happened To…

November 19th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Some hearty dishes, traditional in New York City diners and “coffee shops” of HG’s youth, seem to have disappeared or exist so far from the pubic’s imagination, that they might as well have been taken off the menu. These include: Liver and onions plus bacon (with a side of French fries or mashed potatoes). Pot roast with a pool of dark brown gravy. Corned beef and cabbage (plus boiled potatoes). Boiled knockwurst with sauerkraut. Hot turkey sandwich (sliced turkey on white bread slathered with lots of giblet gravy plus a scoop of cranberry sauce). Hot roast beef sandwich (like turkey but with brown gravy, a side of mashed potatoes and pallid string beans). These were all cheap, filling dishes. Young HG, not a fastidious fresser, found them delicious.

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Day of the Big Bird

November 27th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

At one time, HG subscribed to Calvin Trillin‘s jaundiced views concerning the Thanksgiving Day turkey. Trillin mused that American cuisine would have improved if Italians had landed at Plymouth rather than English Puritans. An Italian landing would have meant Spaghetti Carbonara on Thamskgiving Day rather than turkey, a bird Trillin does not admire. HG is very fond of both Carbonara and the prose of Trilllin, but HG has become ever fonder of The Big Bird and all the trimmings. This Thanksgiving, HG and BSK were blessed with having BSK’s family (folks with big appetites) at the table. The family group was composed of BSK’s sister, Noel;her husband, Yossi, and their two sons, Eric and Matthew. Also present was Eric’s beautiful girl friend, Lisa. The two young men are big guys — well over six feet and well over 200 pounds. Much muscle. Lisa (a Norwegian horse vaulting champion) is a powerful lass who bench presses over 200 pounds. Combined with Yossi, a rangy Israeli who is a renowned Clean Plate Ranger, this quartet can do a lot of damage to a large turkey. With some help from HG, BSK and Noel, the group totally demolished a 16-pound turkey, mounds of mashed potatoes, brussell sprouts roasted with pancetta, stir fried haricot verts, corn bread-sausage-pecan stuffing, two varieties of cranberry sauce. Plus the obligatory gallon of savory gravy (enhanced by BSK’s lovely roux and some judicious spicing). No second day turkey sandwiches. Only a skeleton went into the turkey broth pot. Dessert was BSK’s nut and cinnamon apple crisp (with vanilla ice cream) plus Noel’s honey cake. Adding to the jolly times were six bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau (very good this year) plus Samuel Adams ale, pre-dinner iced vodka and post dinner Israeli dessert wine (resembled a good French sweet Sauterne). Much to be thankful for.

Hellmann’s Mayonaise & The Frankies.

January 21st, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

One of HG’s favorite cookbooks is The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual. SJ introduced HG and BSK to Frankies 457 Spuntino Restaurant on Smith Street in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn. Wonderful, forthright Brooklyn/Italian food with an emphasis on lightness and natural flavors. Memorable salads. HG/BSK have used the Frankies recipe for romaine hearts with Caesar dressing with delicious results. It’s not a Caesar salad, just a tasty, simplified dressing that uses Hellmann’s Mayonnaise instead of raw eggs. No croutons. Good. HG despises them. HG shares the Frankies fondness for Hellmann’s. The cookbook notes that Nobu Matsushita, the great Japanese chef of Nobu fame, uses Hellmann’s in his signature shrimp and lobster dishes. Good enough for Nobu. Good enough for HG. Of course, if you are doing aioli or rouille, hand whipped, made from scratch mayo is essential. But, for sandwiches, cole slaw, potato salad and a multitude of other dishes Hellmann’s is the stuff. And, when it’s post-Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey sandwich time, haul out that other ornament of the supermarket — Heinz Ketchup. Mixed with Hellmann’s (and some optional, chopped sweet gherkins) the resulting Russian dressing makes even dry turkey breast very palatable.

Christmas Dinner

December 26th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, there was a crisp and golden skinned turkey with lots of moist and flavorful meat carved gracefully by BSK’s sister, Noel M. This was preceded by Beulah soup (named for HG’s late, beloved sister who introduced the Freeman Famille to the soup — essentially, a puree of Butternut squash and chicken stock. But, SJ kicked it up many notches through a blend of spices like nutmeg, cayenne, cumin and the secret ingredient, apple cider. Soup was topped off with a dab of sour cream or Greek yogurt (dusted with additional cayenne for lovers of spicy heat.) Turkey side dishes included a cornbread dressing (made lush with mushrooms and sausage), BSK’s very special cranberry sauce, haricots vert, brussel sprouts (tiptoeing into heaven with their topping of bacon and chestnuts), pearl onions glazed with balsamic vinegar, a virtual mountain of SJ’s buttery mashed potatoes. And, yes, there was that essential — gallons of flavorful turkey gravy. Beaujolais Nouveau was the wine of choice. Later in the evening there was BSK-baked apple pie and ice cream with dolce con leche.

Appetites had been honed by a long sunshine hike in the snow dotted New Mexico landscape. HG and Adorable Haru swam many laps in the heated indoor lap pool. Loads of joy.

Family, Food and Fun. Who could ask for anything more?

T Day Means Turkey..And Tradition.

October 31st, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Notice how the foodie magazines go crazy about turkey and Thanksgiving Day? They’ve got to come up with something new every year so there are insane suggestions regarding the noble bird traditional on the day of family tension and overeating. Soak it in cider. Soak it in bourbon. Rub it with outlandish spice mixtures…Cajun, Jerk, Moroccan, Mexican, ad infinitum.

Deep fry the turkey. Poach the bird. Stick beer cans up the bird’s ass and rotate it slowly over a pit of glowing coals.

Side dish ideas are equally surreal. Stuffing suggestions combine the unspeakable with the indigestible.

HG’s suggestion: Keep it simple. Keep it traditional. Do what Mom or your Grandfather did.

The Moving Words Of A Great Turk

October 15th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

HG does not wish anyone to infer from HG’s “Faux Pas” post that he harbors animosity toward Turkey. In fact, HG has long been an admirer of that country, its art, architecture and, of course, its cuisine. One of HG’s heroes is Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, first president of modern Turkey and creator of that secular state. Ataturk was the commander of the Turkish forces at Gallipoli, that misguided slaughter house of World War One where so many young soldiers from Australia, Britain, New Zealand, France, India and Newfoundland lost their lives. Obviously, the present day parallels are many.

In 1934, Ataturk unveiled a memorial to “Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives at Gallipoli.” The inscription reads: “You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore, rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. You, the mothers who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”